Libreville — The 18th Conference of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa on 30 and 31 January 2012, did not lead to the appointment of a Commission Chairperson.
This unprecedented situation has created a deep malaise in the operation of our Organisation; it has created division within the Member States, weakened the institutions, discouraged development partners and is projecting a negative image of Africa's democratic progress to the rest of the world.
To prevent a repeat performance at the upcoming Summit in Lilongwe, the Conference of Heads of State and Government set up, by Decision Assembly/AU/DEC.414 (XVIII), an Ad Hoc Committee of Heads of State and Government, made up of South Africa, Algeria, Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon and Chad, chaired by Benin in its capacity as current Chair of the AU, with the primary mission of examining the problems involved in the election of members of the AU Commission.
Following the meeting on 17 March in Cotonou, the Committee of Eight expressed the desire to find a political and consensual solution to these issues, and so, with this in mind, they invited Their Excellencies Jacob Zuma and Ali Bongo Ondimba, respectively President of the South African Republic and President of the Gabonese Republic, to hold bilateral consultations in order to agree on a solution that would be in the best interests of the African Union and the continent.
Even while Gabon is working to make the bilateral consultations a success, being careful not to take any unilateral action that might compromise the efforts of the Committee of Eight, it is with regret that we note that South Africa and the SADC have intensified campaigning for their candidate, despite the recommendations of the Heads of State and Government. This is creating confusion within African and world opinion and is indicative of an attitude far removed the goal of unity and solidarity embodied by the African Union.
Gabon, conscious of its responsibilities and convinced of the need to promote peace and solidarity in Africa, has engaged in intense consultations, including sending a delegation from the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) to the African National Congress (ANC) and the mission of the Gabonese Minister of Foreign Affairs to the President of South Africa. All of these efforts made by the Gabonese Government, and by Member States that deplore this situation, have unfortunately met with the intransigence of South Africa.
Gabon would like to reiterate its full support for the candidacy of Dr Jean Ping, whose mandate seems positive despite the extremely difficult situation on the African continent, as indicated by his victory over his rival in the first three rounds of voting in January. Furthermore, Gabon's support is also motivated by a strict observance of the principles governing the functioning of our Organisation, including the rule of two terms and the abstention of the five major contributors and the host country from running for the office of Chair of the African Union Commission.
Asked what myths about Africa need dispelling, participants mentioned the ubiquitous "basket case" stereotype, the so-called lack of talent, that young people as misguided and irresponsible and that North Africans are not really Africans.
In response to the young leaders' views, Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance of South Africa, said the session had been one of the most inspiring things he had heard in a long time. They showed commendable idealism, which is "what the world needs right now". Gordhan said no transformation can happen without clear ideas of what society wants to achieve. "Africa is in very safe hands if these are the leaders of the future," he added.